quarters and submitted to the major-general commanding the department. I am instructed by the commanding general to state in reply that while it is his desire to the wishes of all general officers in respect to the locality of their service, yet he does not deem it consistent with the good of the service to make changes in the principal commanders of the department at a moment when important movements may be anticipated, unless the reasons impelling those changes should be most important. The commanding general, before granting your request for relief, deems it necessary that you should state your reasons for desiring such change of service.
Very respectfully, general, I am, your obedient servant,
CHAS. P. STONE,
Brigadier-General, Chief of Staff.
HEADQUARTERS U. S. FORCES, Matagorda Bay, Tex., February 17, 1864.
Commanding at Indianola:
Your understanding about the order regarding the evacuation of Old Town is correct. It need not be evacuated unless you consider it advisable on a further reduction of your force.
I understand there is a narrow, deep bayou between you and the Bayoucos Island Bayou, about midway. It will be necessary for you to make arrangements to bridge this temporarily for your march, in case you come down that way. It so, can't it be done with some lumber and small boats from Indianola when you are ready to move? Respectfully,
N. J. T. DANA,
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF EASTERN ARKANSAS, Helena, Ark., February 17, 1864.
Lieutenant G. O. SOKALSKI,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General:
I have the honor to inform General Steele that my scouts have lately captured a large number of rebels. I have administered the oath of allegiance to those who deserved it who had been conscripted, and others who placed themselves in the way to be captured, including 2 officers. Under the directions of the Secretary of War I have sent yesterday 28 privates to Alton and 6 officers to Johnson's Island. On the 14th instant Captain O'Connell, of the Fifteenth Illinois 4 other officers, wounding Colonel Josey, breaking his right arm with a pistol-shot, and also wounding his adjutant, who escaped. Colonel Josey is in a private house here receiving careful treatment from my surgeons.
I have my previous information confirmed that General McRea is in Saint Francis Country trying to organize his brigade and dealing in cotton, which is smuggled into Memphis by his employes and every kind of supplies received in return. I suggest that a cavalry raid of 1,000 men be sent from four points on Whit River, in detachments, 250 strong, across the country to the Mississippi River,